The precepts for a happy marriage are well known, but hard to follow. Make time for each other. Do not keep anger in your heart.
Mr Ho Cheng Pheng and Madam Lee Lei Hoon have lived by these virtues for so long that their marriage is a model for their friends. The 60-year-olds, who have been married for 37 years, still make an effort to carve out a weekly date. “Saturday evenings are just for us. No family or friends. Just my husband and me,” said Madam Lee, a childcare centre administrator. There is nothing fancy or elaborate for their night out – they most enjoy a long stroll along the park connector.
As for disagreements, “voice them, but do not let anger take over”, Madam Lee said. When they were younger and struggling to bring up two children on Mr Ho’s modest salary from the army, Madam Lee would sometimes find herself upset or angry about something. Instead of picking a fight, she would go for a walk to calm herself down. “When the anger and frustration have subsided, you usually find that there is nothing to fight about,” she said.
Mr Ho, now an assistant administrator at the PAP Community Foundation headquarters, said: “A relationship is about give and take. Do not compare each person’s contribution to the family because it cannot be measured. And, don’t remember the bad things. Always move on from them.”
Photo: Mr Ho and Madam Lee on a date at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 1977 (left); and the couple today. Courtesy of the Ho Family and Caroline Chia / Straits Times